Saturday, December 11, 2010

Pet Mess Cleanup Guide

Keep your home looking and smelling fresh with this crop of useful tips.

.There’s no question that our furry family members bring us oodles of joy, but every pet owner knows they can also leave a few unwelcome surprises around the house. Then there’s fur to contend with, cages that get smelly and nasty critters like fleas who hijack a ride indoors. But living with pets doesn’t have to mean living with messes.
Accidents Happen
Even the most well-trained pet will have an occasional accident. The good news is, “most stains can be prevented if you act fast,” says Larry Cooper, technical director of the Professional Carpet & Upholstery Cleaners Association. “Getting to it sooner rather than later is key.”
If It’s Still Wet…
1. Blot it up. “Get up as much as possible so it doesn’t begin to spread into the carpet backing and padding,” says Cooper. Scrape up any solids with a blunt-edged object like a spoon. Then place a thick layer of paper towels (white only, so the print doesn’t bleed) or an old towel on top of the area. Press or stand on the towels to help absorb the liquid.
2. Resist the urge to scrub. “Carpet fibers are twisted together, and vigorous rubbing causes them to come apart,” says Cooper. Instead, continue blotting until the area seems dry, then weigh down the towels with a phone book overnight to wick up any remaining fluid. If a spot remains once the area dries, try the steps below.
If It’s Dry…
1. Dampen the area lightly. Wet the spot with plain water using a sprayer bottle, towel or handheld spotting machine (similar to a wet vac machine). “Avoid flooding the area, which can cause the stain to penetrate the carpet,” says Jim Pemberton, a spokesman for the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification. “You want to mist the spot, not drown it.”
2. Extract the water. Using the machine or paper towels, soak up the water; repeat the process of misting and extracting until the spot is gone. “In most cases, plain water will do the job,” says Pemberton.
3. Take it to the next level. If there’s an odor or the spot doesn’t come up, try a pet enzyme cleaner, found at pet, grocery and home improvement stores. “Don’t grab just any cleanser in your house,” says Pemberton. “Products such as disinfectants, hard-surface cleaners, detergents and powdered deodorizers can bleach the carpet or leave a residue that attracts even more soil over time.” Also avoid using ammonia or homemade cleaners, which may get rid of the odor—but could actually attract your pet for a repeat performance.
4. Know when to call a pro. Since vomit may contain stomach acids, food dyes and bile, it’s particularly difficult to remove. Give it a go, but if you can’t get it out, call a professional for help. Go to for a pro near you.
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